Today was to be Big R day. Back in the saddle. On the horse. Ride Ride Ride. Got my new (used) saddle, got a choice of girths, got everything ready for the Big Day.
Lesson at 2:00 with Avery. It has taken a long time to get to this day. Feel ready. Okay feel worried. Have I made too big a deal to myself about this? Why do I have to do it with Avery? But I do. She is part of this journey for me. I feel she showed her caution and care when she brought her saddle but the girth was too large. Okay she tightened the girth so the saddle wasn't going anywhere but all she would let me do was sit in the saddle. No walking. No moving. Just sitting. Safety first.
I remind myself that I didn't "fall off". It was an unusual situation. And time to be back out on the trails. So today's the day.
I've been making lists. Decide to get everything all lined up in the indoor. And also decide to bring my dressage saddle up, just in case there is some reason the Natural Performer isn't going to work. I'm gonna ride today!
I also wonder at my decision to ride first time in the NP. Why not just get on with the Kieffer? Seems like I've decided to go all the way with the new saddle. I'm gonna ride today.
Get to the barn at 12:45. Have lots to do today. Organize everything from the tack room and now need to move my dressage saddle, girths, helmet, saddle pad, correction pad, extra shims, half chaps and this is just in case. Then there is my rope bag with hackamore, new (used) 22 foot line, old mud soaked 22 foot line, halter, 12 foot line, two carrot sticks, bridle, extra shims. The Natural Performer is already in the tack room in the indoor along with saddle pad. I'm ready!
We've had some wonderful weather and Cici has been naked. And of course she rolled. I look at her in the paddock and she has just been fed lunch. So I gather up brushes and go to groom her while she eats. I'm gonna ride today!
As I groom I laugh to myself. The last time Avery came I don't think I even combed out Cici's mane and tail. I've become one of those natural horsemen who show up at clinics with dirty mud encrusted horses. OMG!!!
Avery begins me with the next installment of the driving game. Driving from zone 3 again and asking Cici to stop when I do. If she keeps going I back her the same number of steps back that she took forward after my feet stopped. At first Cici would keep walking about 6 steps and turn and face me. Back her then circle her around me. We are walking along the wall. Have to work on being effective with my phases. Phase 4 still a challenge for me.
But slowly we make progress. She is stopping with 2 steps but not turning around to face me. I can back her up by rope wiggling up and down. And then the moment comes when I exhale and stop and she does also. This is soooo cool, great, fantastic, awesome. It is building on this, having her synced into me that will allow me to trot from Zone 3 with her. To canter, and change directions and change gates - transitions. Oh how amazing is this. I can see where we can go.
Saddling time. Avery puts the saddle on Cici. She shows me how to do the cinches and girths and latigos and buckles. The 26" girth works fine. And she wants the 22" girth I had as backup. Wow Cici looks very chic in her dark colored western saddle with all the latigos hanging down and double cinch. I'm gonna ride today.
Now to do a preflight check. Circling game. Well Cici starts out just okay, a bit rushy, has a few nice steps and Avery tells me to disengage and reward the good quality trot. Then send her out again. When she stops and faces to thank her and then send and use the savvy string to hit the ground where her hind foot is/was. Not a punishment, just if you don't move there are consequences.
And now things get interesting. She starts to react to the carrot stick. She goes right brain. She moves. She flies. She is looking outside the circle. No quality here LOL.
Change of direction. Lots of changes of direction to engage her brain. Okay to try and engage her brain. Back her, wiggle rope real hard to shut her down when I ask for change of direction and she keeps going the same direction.
This is all fast and hard for me. She is out at the end of the 22 and pulling. Avery is more concerned about my left arm and tells me to change hands if I need to. I think I'm doing okay. Rope wiggling is hard. Do have to swap hands. Carrot stick accuracy is at first not too good on left but since I now have lots of practice gets better.
Watching her and assessing what is going on and making decisions on what to do. Fast fast fast. I feel like I'm flying! A challenge but I'm up to it!!!!! How cool is that.
Several times while all this is going on Avery would say, I wouldn't get on that horse. I tell her that I am not in a rush. I'll get on when she is listening and focused and if it doesn't happen today that is fine.
I am learning so much on the ground. Makes me wonder why I want to get on and ride!